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Old 07-12-2007, 03:25 PM
March Hare March Hare is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3
Federal clerkship a pipe dream?

I'm a 3L and my school is heavily encouraging people to apply for federal clerkships. I'm in the top 10% of my class, Law Review board, national moot court competitions, MLIS degree as well, all while working full-time (I'm a part-time student). All of which looks super - except that I'm not attending a top school. We're solidly in the top 100, but in the bottom 50. And from what I've gathered here and elsewhere, that basically makes federal clerkships a shiny, unattainable dream.

Is this an accurate perception? I'm more than willing to send forth hundreds of applications, and I'm happy to relocate to nearly anywhere, but if it's beyond a shadow of a doubt impossible, I'm certainly busy enough to reallocate that time elsewhere.
Old 07-17-2007, 10:48 AM
AMMO AMMO is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 14
not at all

I was in the exact same boat as you. I actually worked 2 years (one as a Public Defender and another as a State Appellate clerk) before landing a federal clerkship, however. What have I learned? Don't go after the federal clerkship because you want it to enhance your resume. That's what I wanted during law school, and I didn't get it. Do go after a federal clerkship because you have an eager desire to be challenged and to work with the analytics of the law on a daily basis. I love my job, but honestly, even though I know it is a great credential, I love my job because of the people I work with and the type of work I do.

I'm rambling, but keep that in mind. Anyway, back to your question. Yes you have a great chance. Apply everywhere if this is what you really want to do. Us lower law school ranked students have a steeper hill to climb. Make sure you apply to every single judge that graduated from your school. And then every judge in your region. And then every judge that you've ever heard that has once hired a clerk from your school. And finally, apply to every other judge remaining! Most are on OSCAR now, so cost shouldn't be as big of a deal. And the payoff later is worth sucking up the money if you can afford it now.

Remember, all that can happen is that a judge rejects you. So what? You'll never get one without applying. So go for it if you truly want to do it, but just make sure it is for the right reason. Like any job, do what excites you.
Old 07-17-2007, 11:37 AM
March Hare March Hare is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3
Thanks. I'm applying because it's really really really what I want to do. I may actually want to be a career clerk, although I would of course like to see what the job is actually like before I make that commitment. Researching, writing, discussing and analyzing the best way to split the hair - these are, indeed, a few of my favorite things.

I'm a little concerned that there are no judges from my school, and there's no history in our career center on any alumni who have clerked for federal judges. And, of course, we're in one of the more competitive circuits, at the school that no one's ever heard of.

I guess I'll keep on my original plan of blanketing the federal judiciary with my applications.
Old 07-30-2007, 11:13 AM
molly molly is offline
Basic Member
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6

AMMO could not be more accurate. If you have considered the job thoroughly and believe you would enjoy it, apply. It appears that you have done exceedingly well in law school while balancing a full-time job. Don't underestimate the importance of that.

Also, don't worry about the lack of alumni on the federal bench or in clerkship positions. Or your law school's rank. Mine was (and still is) below the top 100. I'm now in the middle of my second federal clerkship.

AMMO is correct that the hill is steeper for us. So be it. Just work harder. Many judges appreciate "the underdog." Some faced similar, if not the same obstacles and challenges.

In my opinion, as between you and the "top 10 law school" applicant, it will be tougher for you to get an interview. However, once both of you have interviews, the playing field will level and no one applicant will have an advantage (barring any weird connections, etc.).

Good luck!
Old 08-10-2007, 05:14 PM
March Hare March Hare is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3
Thanks for your feedback. Based on comments here and elsewhere, I think I might have more luck once I get a few years of legal experience. So many positions are already full and it's not even September yet. I think I'll still do OSCAR, since it's free (assuming there are any openings left once Labor Day rolls around), but I'll concentrate on getting some contract work here after I graduate in December. Then, in a few years I can try again for a clerkship. Some practical experience might be enough to override the lack of school ranking.

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